While reminiscing over the holiday presents you received, don’t forget to include the special gift of friendship. Yes, cultivating and maintaining friendships take time, but, oh, the fruits derived from those efforts are bountiful.
 
Just like an extra spice can make a favorite dish even tastier, so, too, can a friendship become more succulent. Here are five ways to spice up your friendships and become an even better friend than you already are.
 
TAKE TIME

This seems so simplistic, but friends need to carve out time for each other. This is not inconsequential. Being together builds memories, and memories bind. Go out for lunch. Work in a quick visit to a coffee house. Shopping and going to movies are great bonding experiences. If exercise is your tie, then schedule that. Whatever activity that interests you both, do it.  
 
If distance is problematic, then call, Skype, or write a “thinking of you” card or letter. 
 
Taking time to stay in touch is a necessity, not a luxury.
 
BE THERE
 
When a friend goes through difficulty, find ways to be supportive. Do what you can to alleviate stress or add joy to a challenging situation. Send flowers. Scrub her kitchen floor. Take over a casserole or pie. Mail gift cards. Offer a listening ear. 
 
Whatever can ease the burden, do it. If you don’t know how to help, ask yourself:  “What would I want if I was going through that same challenge?”
 
OVERLOOK THE SMALL STUFF
 
It is easy to focus on the trivial slights in a friendship. She didn’t call me right back or Doesn’t she know how much that hurt? Multitudes of issues can crop up. Ones might even 
require deep conversations to resolve. So, don’t waste those “we really need to talk” discussions by blowing little things out of proportion. 
 
Cut her some slack. Forgive. Move on. Unless she consistently forgets lunch dates, fine, call her on it. However, if life overwhelmed her, and she forgot just once, then swallow the 
embarrassment of waiting alone at the bistro for what seemed like hours. Instead, contact her and reschedule. Laugh instead of fume. Truly, life’s too short to dwell on the petty.
 
BE GENEROUS
 
Did you find an item at the craft show that your friend would love? Did you spy a book you know she would devour in one evening? Can you sacrifice watching a new episode of “Project Runway” to take a phone call when she’s distraught?
 
A friendship should be give and take. A healthy mix enriches the relationship and makes you, the giver, feel good. Don’t be stingy with your time. Give from the heart. It can be as simple as a handpicked bouquet from your garden or sharing oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies and tea. 
 
And, don’t forget to graciously receive the gifts she gives, too.
 
CELEBRATE UNIQUENESS
 
Each and every friend brings something unique and dear to your world. A wardrobe would become dull fast if you wore only black clothes. So, too, would friendships be dull if all were alike. 

Celebrate the differences. Have a bevy of friends from diverse groups and organizations. Look to your church, synagogue, or mosque. Find someone who shares similar political beliefs. Consider the women in the babysitting co-op or playgroup. At the local retirement community. A neighbor. A co-worker. The person next to you at yoga or Zumba. Like the variety of crayon colors in a 64 count box, celebrate the joys of individuality in your friends. 
 
Friendships are gifts. They really are. So, treasure them.
Like the article? We bet you’ll love this book:
Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink explores a thirty-year friendship between two women: one who had never learned to cultivate female friendships, and the other who had managed to gather a...
Mary & Me

Mary Potter Kenyon